Indigenous Culture Celebrated in Summer Exhibition at Delaware Art Museum

DelArt Will Wilson
Image: Will Wilson (born 1969). How the West is One, 2014, printed 2016. Collection of the artist. Artwork © Will Wilson Art & Photo, LLC.

WILMINGTON, DE – At the Delaware Art Museum (DelArt), the new exhibition “In Conversation: Will Wilson” explores issues of Indigenous representation within the history of photography through the work of Diné (Navajo) photographer Will Wilson (b. 1969). A pow wow and storytelling event at the museum are planned with the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Nanticoke Indian Association, and local Indigenous community members.

“Will Wilson’s photographs represent a meaningful shift in the way Indigenous communities are represented in museum spaces,” said guest curator Kaila Schedeen. “Wilson’s work provides the platform for individuals to represent themselves as they want to be seen, while also shifting the conversation of contemporary Indigenous representation towards exchange, mutual respect, and relationship-building.”

Wilson’s work explores the legacy of historical photographs on the representation of Native peoples in North America. Through the artist’s ongoing Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange (CIPX) project, Wilson combines historic wet plate (tintype) photography with 21st-century Augmented Reality (AR) technology in a convenient app to bring his “Talking Tintype” photographs to life. Through the CIPX images, Wilson facilitates new conversations about Indigeneity that emphasize a reciprocal relationship with the sitters. Wilson visited Delaware in May to photograph members of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware and the Nanticoke Indian Association. Their portraits will be included in the exhibition at DelArt this summer and later at the Nanticoke Indian Museum.

“We are grateful to the committee of advisors who guided the presentation of this important exhibition and participated in the Critical Indigenous Photography Exchange,” said Iz Balleto, Community Engagement Specialist. “We invite everyone to visit the exhibition at DelArt, celebrate Indigenous culture at the July 23 Pow Wow of Arts & Culture, and hear community members’ stories at the My Land, My Roots event on September 8.” 

In Conversation: Will Wilson is complemented by an exhibit by local photographer Andre’ L. Wright, Jr., Indigenous Faces of Wilmington, in the Museum’s Orientation Hall. Both shows are on view through September 8. The national tour of In Conversation: Will Wilson is supported by the Art Bridges Foundation.